Spreading of sewage sludge to land - impacts on human health and the environment: community concerns

This workshop summary report is part of the research project undertaken by the James Hutton Institute on the impacts on human health and environment arising from the spreading of sewage sludge to land (CR/2016/23).

This document is part of a collection

Appendix 2

Statements from participants around "What can the project do, what can Scottish Government do, what can Scottish Water do and what can the community do"?

  • Make strong recommendations from the group
  • Raise concerns to bodies for better regulation
  • Recommend better policing
  • Extend models to presume criminal levels of spreading
  • Investigate sustainable alternatives
  • Seek alternative model for contractor / company relationships
  • To look into data of contractors
  • Look at individual areas [which are] highly affected
  • Project needs to recognise that many of the contractors and the industry do not comply with legislation or best practice
  • Make sure there is complete understanding of what is actually happening and the impact on people's lives
  • Consider how long materials are stock-piled, well in excess of recommendations
  • Where is the map of metal contents of land and it's availability
  • Clarify who is responsible for the heat treatment of sludge

Scottish Government

  • Listen to issues and react
  • Carrot not stick? Reward good practice
  • SEPA to turn up on Sunday [not sure what was happening on Sunday]
  • SEPA needs to be more in evidence / needs to be consulted more
  • Regulation must be adhered to
  • Contractors should not be allowed to self-test samples
  • Planning legislation- no planning application for sewage treatment, liquid waste lagoon, land fill
  • Legislation and enforcement
  • Current legislation is open to misinterpretation letting regulatory bodies do nothing
  • SEPA stop re-issuing mobile licence over and over again
  • SEPA be more proactive in checking operators activities
  • Regulatory bodies held to account for lack of support or action. SEPA, SW, Falkirk council
  • A single entity is required to regulate the industry. It must be fully funded and not rely on fines in the industry to pay for enforcement
  • The spreading of sewage sludge must be banned until the product is proved to be safe and the industry controlled
  • Consider costs to the country of the violations in the industry i.e. closure of rail line
  • Legislate to protect communities
  • SEPA inspect properly any risk management licences
  • SEPA do not respond to complaints actively. Staff seem unaware of recommendations
  • Protocols ignored, No scrutiny
  • Quantities should be monitored and checked that they are not putting more on than allowed
  • Annual testing of sludge land
  • Regular impact studies of sludge testing
  • Make contractors accountable- independent testing, enforced regular inspections
  • Follow the example of Switzerland

Scottish Water

  • Be proactive and monitor / test / research alternatives
  • SW should monitor that contractors are processing properly
  • More inspections by SW and SEPA
  • React promptly to complaints
  • Clarify legislation on who is responsible for pollution- 3rd party
  • Vehicles that carry waste are unsuitable


  • Community councils should share information
  • Interact more regularly
  • Independently log loads and destinations
  • Report smells to SEPA
  • Report lorry activity to community council
  • Who is responsible for following up/ handling complaints?
  • Lack of trust

Other comments

  • Same consultant works for contractor and Falkirk council
  • Who regulates soil testing?
  • Intimidation of public and inspectors [by contractors?]
  • Why is sewage brought [here] from all over Scotland? Glasgow, Oban, Lossiemouth, Lochgilphead
  • Ban until proven safe. Widespread abuse out of control
  • Animal deaths / abnormalities in livestock
  • Damage to businesses with pollution caused by over spreading
  • Hours of operation, can go on all night
  • No planning requirement for sewage operation
  • Regulations for haulage not being followed (bring sludge up from Ayrshire)
  • Could spread be decreased and incineration increased?
  • Contractor putting slurry on peat at Gardrum Moss. Is that legal / appropriate?



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